Since its inception, CAPA has upheld a tradition of organizing an annual event, devoted to scholarly discussions of current events especially those relevant to Taiwan. While the events are opened to the general public, speakers/panelists have been invited among CAPA members as well as other experts. The forum this year is initiated by CAPA president, Thomas Wu and his EC committee members. I am privileged to be asked to help organizing this forum. Thank you all for participating.
The forum today will focus on New Challenges, addressing some of the issues that face the new government under the presidency of Ma and Hsiao. This is indeed an opportune time, as the legislative branch will soon reconvene and the leaderships are profoundly receptive to ideas, audacious as they maybe. We believe seeing things from a distance may well provide a refreshing way of thinking, hence the significance of this forum being held in the suburb of the District of Columbia.
This forum will concentrate on Economics and we are privileged to have Professor Ho of NTU to do the honor of keynote speaker. More introductions will be made later.
Following the keynote speech, this forum will be conducted as three one-hour sessions, covering, respectively, the issues of (1) Food, Feed and Biofuel, from an agricultural marketing and technologic points of view, (2) the Cross Strait relationship, its intricacy and delicacy, and (3) Economics, expectation and realities. The sessions will be run consecutively as shown in the schedule. Each session will be chaired by one person, with three to four panelists who would raised specific issue(s) and make general comments. The floor will then be opened for questions and remarks by you, the audience.
The forum will be concluded with the chairs of each session summarizing their major views, respectively, identifying topics for recommendations, and invite comments on developing cross-disciplinary approaches that can be made effectively. I shall try to provide a summary statement on your behalf.
PC Huang 黃秉乾
The CAPA forum for 2008 focuses on some of the challenges facing the new government in Taiwan. It aims to identify and analyze issues that may be resolved in time. Specific recommendations are to be presented.
Economy was identified as one of the most pressing issues for Taiwan, and for the world. The forum elected tax reform and industrial restructuring as two of its main topics for discussion, with emphasis on their goals and the keys to success. The crucial principles are centered on enhancing international competitiveness, promoting equality and fairness in the societies and maintaining a stable and sound fiscal environment. Thus balances and equilibrium are essence in terms of social equity vs. economic efficiency, static equilibrium vs. dynamic reconciliation, and competitiveness vs. globalization.
The forum invoked the reform of taxation on inheritance and gifts as a point for deliberation. Current gifts and estate tax codes in Taiwan are outdated, cumbersome and inefficient with few exemption amounts and insensible levies. This creates hardships for individuals and small businesses, and certainly discouraging donations. It is the consensus of the forum that for social equity and incentives for charitable contributions, the tax should be reformed, but not repealed.
Among the options for tax reform in Taiwan, three deserve further studies:
- A plan that would move the tax code to a system imposing a single reduced tax rate for inheritance gift to surviving members or designated beneficiaries.
- A plan that would move the tax code to a system exempting tax for charitable gifts to not-for-profit organizations; allowing the donors and business to write-off their investments, dividends, interest, and capital gains immediately, and allowing deduction of real estate donations.
- A plan that would move the tax code to a system evolving to a lower rate, broader base and simplified taxation system for the business/industrial sectors than those at present.
While plans 1 and 2 are proposed to eventually merge as one, implementation of plan 3 is timely as current law is to expire at the end of 2009. Removal of disincentives to saving and reformation of corporate tax structure can be expected to realize greater economic growth, maintain a sustainable fiscal society, and enhance competitiveness of Taiwan in the global market.
Recommendation of industrial reconstruction and financial reform takes into consideration of competitiveness in the manufacture, service, international trade and labor, and the second generation health care program in Taiwan. The forum is reminded of the successful strategies used by Japan, which sets priority in maintaining a lead and the control of high technology. Technology in energy is an imminent example.
From the technology point of view, CAPA forum addressed also the importance of agriculture. It was pointed out that human resource is a main asset of a country, and the shortage of qualified personnel will have negative impact on the society; such as a reduction in the agriculture productivity world wide. The slow start with innovations on biofuel as a substitute for natural energy exemplifies the urgency. Recommendation is for more active recruiting gifted students and providing proper education and research environment to scientist/teachers. The actions for agriculture may include, but not limited to, curriculum reform, faculty staffing, conventional and molecular breeding, and partnership among universities, research institutes, government agencies and industries in and beyond Taiwan.
The forum recognizes the importance of political approach to economics, particularly for Taiwan to interact with the USA and mainland China. The complexity of the nexus led to the conclusion that flexible, yet substantive, diplomacy would be desired at this juncture.
PC Huang 黃秉乾